The New York Minute

Interview Series: Meet Your Remarkable New York Neighbors

The Bespoke Tailor

Paul & Vince would like to welcome to the conversation Harry Bhambi of Bhambi’s Custom Tailors.
Bespoke is anything made especially for you from scratch…Whereas “made to measure” means tweaking an existing pattern, bespoke is much more detailed, down to 16ths of an inch, and results in a much better fit…designed for your silhouette, your style, and even your posture.

Harry Bhambi, a world-renowned bespoke tailor and owner of Bhambi’s Custom Tailors, is located in Midtown Manhattan on East 60th and Madison, celebrating over 50 years in business.

A Fashion Institute of Technology graduate, he has worked alongside his father, Lal Bhambi, for over thirty years. His expertise has led him to all corners of the world and clients from all walks of life, including movie stars, industry titans, royalty, and prominent politicians. He lives in the Upper West Side with his wife and three children and loves attending the theater, visiting museums, and running in Central Park.


Paul & Vince: How did you come to be in New York City in your current career?

Harry: My dad came from Europe as a tailor and a cutter and started the company in 1968. So, I grew up around clothing and then attended the Fashion Institute of Technology, wanting to be a famous designer. I thought I’d make high-end, ready-made suits and put them in department stores. However, I learned it was very competitive, without much profit margin. So, I realized I could do the same thing here, giving customers high-end clothing while still being creative. My dad’s still in the business — he’s 89 and works five days a week — so it felt right to work with him, too.

Paul & Vince: Full circle. Tell us, what is bespoke vs. “made to measure?”

Harry: Bespoke is anything made especially for you from scratch. So, here that means the customer picks the fabrics, and we create a pattern and a design specifically for them. Whereas “made to measure” means tweaking an existing pattern, bespoke is much more detailed, down to 16ths of an inch, and results in a much better fit…designed for your silhouette, your style, and even your posture.


Paul & Vince: What does a typical day on the job look like for you?

Harry: Basically, it’s a very hands-on business. I come in every morning and see where we are with work from the previous day. I meet with clients one on one. If we have new orders, I’ll create the patterns. We have people who make slacks and those who just make jackets. So, I check up on their work all the time.

Paul & Vince: Okay. And where does your new business typically come from?

Harry: 90% of our business comes from word of mouth.

Paul & Vince: And you have worked with some interesting people.

Harry: Yes, I’ve done Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig…We’ve done work for Howard Schultz, who owns Starbucks, and I made many suits for the late John McCain during his presidential campaign.

Paul & Vince: That’s impressive.

Harry: Thank you. People know our work. Not many do what we do anymore — making handmade suits here in New York and not in some factory elsewhere.


Paul & Vince: Could you tell us something people don’t realize about your work?

Harry: Most people wouldn’t realize how much goes into making a bespoke suit. It’s different than off-the-rack, where suits are made by machines by the thousands. At least 50 hours of labor go into creating a handmade suit.

As an example, we’re known for the care we take just in making suit lapels. It’s a special thing we do; we match all the lines on the lapel along the seam. So, the lines continue over that diagonal seam, whether it’s a subtle pinstripe or a window pane. Honestly, we are probably one of the only places in the world that do that…less than 1% of suitmakers do that! My dad taught me that skill.

Paul & Vince: Beyond suits and coats, do you make anything else?

Harry: Of course, people are becoming more casual these days, so for example, we’ve made beautiful bomber jackets. [Fashion designer] Tom Ford even asked us to make him velvet jackets in beautiful colors. We’re doing more weddings now. Suits are probably down 40% since the pandemic, but sports jackets, tuxedos, and weddings – keep us busier than ever.  Law firms asked us to get their top lawyers’ suits, both men and women.

Paul & Vince: Wait, that’s amazing. Suits are given as corporate gifts?

Harry: Of course, it’s a great perk! That way, the whole company looks good!


Paul & Vince: What are your favorite things to do in New York on your day off?

Harry: I have two kids and a third on the way, so I like to spend time with family. We are all very close. My dad lives with us, and we recently moved closer to the office so that he could walk to work. We all love Broadway; we go to lots of shows. I like to see the performances, and I like to see the costumes. [laughs]

…and one more, Just For Fun

Paul & Vince: Now it’s time for our Just For Fun question. If you could live inside the setting of a famous movie for a day, which would you choose? 

Harry: The Great Gatsby, with everyone dressed impeccably at fantastic parties.

Paul & Vince: That makes sense. What would you wear in that world?

Harry: Well, if it’s summertime, maybe a nice white suit…linen or seersucker.

Paul & Vince: Would you be Gatsby and make an entrance?

Harry: No, I do not want to be Gatsby. [laughs] I’d rather people-watch than be the center of attention.

Paul & Vince: So, it’s in your work to be a good confidant?

Harry: Exactly. I’m always interested in getting to know people and learning more about them. I don’t care as much about being the star. So, in the movies, I’ll take the supporting role. [laughs]

Original artwork by Jolisa Robinson, Gavriani-Falcone Team Marketing

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